During my 20 years of singleness the holidays were some of the hardest.
The holidays are tough as a single person. Especially if you are over 25. Christmas is magical as a child, it’s a great time to do nothing as a college student, but the older you get, unless you just love Christmas, the tougher it is.
It’s during this time of year that most people have some time off to reflect, and whether we like it or not, it can be a time where singles are constantly reminded of what they don’t have – for yet another year.
We are often the ones that travel for Christmas. After all, Santa doesn’t come to our house – just to our nieces’ and nephews’. And most likely we will go to our parents not the other way around.
There are also the Christmas cards from our married friends – pictures of couples and kids arriving every day in the mail. It’s not that we don’t love all of those people, we do. It’s just that it is another reminder.
If we head to a party at the office, with the organization we work with, or at church etc, we go alone even when spouses are welcome.
If we have a gathering with our parents and/or extended family we will inevitably face all of the singles questions and platitudes we hear in that setting. And we have to determine how to deal with them.
Then Christmas is over and we get to head to New Years Eve. Yeah! Celebrating another year passing – alone.
Bottom line, the holidays can be lonely, frustrating and emotionally tiring for singles.
Before I give us some thoughts about some things I think can help, let me say this for any married people who might want to tell me what I’m saying isn’t true. Just don’t! I’m married now and it’s not close. Yes you can still have family dysfunction. No doubt there can be some pressure and managing of kids etc. I get it. But it just is not personally as hard. It’s not close. I did it single for a long time. I’ve done it married for the last two years. Waaaaaayyyyyyyyy better married. Not close. At all.
So what can we do as single folks? Here are a few things that helped me over the years. These aren’t formula as we are all different with different backgrounds. But these ideas helped me.
First things first, as platitude like as it sounds, I’d pray for it. I just learned to try to submit the time to God. The whole couple of weeks. Time with the family, other stuff I have planned, parties and other gatherings – all of it. I know it sounds basic, but starting here will help with the rest. Ok, on to the suggestions – some with links to more on the subject.
- If you have nephews and nieces nearby – go see them and join in the spoiling of those kids. Yes it’s a reminder that you don’t have a kid, but man you still get to see them enjoy Christmas kid magic.
- Think about how you to respond to the platitudes that family will offer. Just be ready for it. I offered some general thoughts here on responding
- If you still have grandparents, don’t blow off their thoughts. My grandmother always brought it up – but she also prayed for it all the time. If I had it to do over, I’d talk to her more about it.
- Fight to be who you are now at home. A couple of years ago I wrote this blog for a different site. Often when we go our parents home it seems we are still treated like kids. One way to avoid that is to not act like one. For years I didn’t take my best home to my parents. Once I realized it, it changed the game.
- Do stuff to celebrate Christmas your way. For most of my single years I didn’t put up a tree or anything. But in my early thirties I made a decision to fully engage. I always got a tree and decorated it. I put lights on my house – something I’d always wanted that my family never did when I was growing up. I hosted a Christmas party for all of my random friends. Celebrate your way.
- Don’t run from community. Go hang out with people. There were years where I just sat around and felt sorry for myself and turned down invites. I think most times it’s better to engage.
- If you have significant time off, have a plan. For me, this is the deadest time of the year for my job. I usually have the week after Christmas completely off. So I would use that to go see friends in places I lived previously. It was a great time to catch up. I would go to one place for two or three days and then another. I’m not saying that particular plan will work for you. But have A plan.
- If you’re feeling opportunistic this is a great time to sign up for online dating sites. Dead serious. I don’t know the stats, but I would bet that more people sign up for online dating during December and January than any other two month period. A lot of quality people who maybe otherwise wouldn’t will take out a trial run or sign up for a three month stretch. To see a great ranking of online dating sites go here. For some thoughts I have on online dating go here.
These are just some of things that helped me. What are some things that have helped you? What is the hardest thing for you on the holidays? Leave some thoughts below – maybe it will help others.
Have a Merry Christmas!
The holidays definitely make me feel my singleness more poignantly. I’m trying to have a better attitude this year and realize that while I may not be able to control what other people say or do, I can control how I respond to it.
(And, I’ll admit, I also tried to preempt some of the awkwardness in one of my recent posts–5 Tips for Interacting with Single People at Holiday Parties
Why do Americans do Christmas cards with pictures of their families on them? No one does that in Australia. We just send cards that have pictures of Christmas trees or Father Christmas or Nativity scenes on them.
Haha – Hey Julie. I know it probably seems like an American self absorption sort of thing but it is not really. It’s a great way to see pics of the family and sometimes get an update. I actually really enjoy getting them from my friends. Always have. Usually even display them somehow.
I decided last year to start sending a Christmas photo card as a single, and I did it again this year. I figured my friends want to see me too, so why not? Plus, 3 years ago, my dear friend was connected to her now-husband because her photo card was hanging on a mutual friend’s refrigerator…so I can always hope for that, right?!? 🙂
That’s awesome! That’s actually a darn good idea. I can totally see where that would happen.
For me, New Years is harder than Christmas. Christmas is not about kissing, it is about fellowship. I am a workaholic round this time sleeping maybe three and half hrs.
You forgot to mention old friends with spouses and kids now calling you “Uncle/Aunt ______.” That’s when you know your singleness is making you the “creepy uncle/aunt” of the group, and they are just too polite to be honest about it.
I agree that not being isolated. I had a friend I fell out with but its important to repair signifigant friendships..so as to ease stuff. its not good to be all alone.
This 35th year was the Singlest Christmas yet for me. As usual, there were no holiday parties to be invited to (be caregiver to an elderly parent means my friends ditched me long ago), and the cards finally stopped this year. My father’s failing health meant that I had to do all the setup for our family Christmas Eve gathering (Christmas Day is nothing, since that’s reserved for the married/coupled to go to other families) – then ended up with a crushing migraine the whole day that meant I was stuck home, entirely missing seeing my brothers and nieces for the year.
New Year’s Eve won’t be anything either. Even HAD I been invited to anything, I’d have to be in bed before midnight, since my parish scheduled me for lectoring the early 1/1 Solemnity of Mary Mother of God mass (the office staff knows that NYE is a “couple’s holiday,” so they gave the awkward time to the single guy on the roster, even if he’s the one who NEEDS to be out looking for a date and romance). A nice bookend to an Advent defined by my experiences with the seasonal “Small Christian Community” where our discussion on spending time with the lonely during the season led to my admitting to folks who I’d sort-of-known for decades about my isolation and pain – only to hear silence for a few moments and then them sudden launching into talking about how much they all enjoyed getting ready for Christmas with their spouses and kids (ignoring my pleas ENTIRELY)…
…I actually started looking around the room for which wall was the Fourth Wall with the Live Television Audience. I love the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, but Christmas is Hell.
I’m sorry. Thank you SO much for your honesty. Blessings to you … I know it must be difficult. I am single and in seminary, and at this point looks like I am on the same road.
You know what, maybe we need to just get over ourselves . I mean Jesus was not posting about his desires for sex and marriage. He out there loving people and honoring God. The Lord of Heaven does not care that we are single. He has blessed us with son, we have the change to be made right in holy eyes. It’s hard it sucks. I have never kiss a guy. I am 28. Christmas is about birth of the one drunk the cup of wine of the wrath of God , don’t forget that. Stop hanging married loser and spent people who love Christ.
At Episteme, most woman are godless sluts or mean-spirit, that’s the only type of woman that Christian men marry. I’ll Christian men demand sex before marriage
Oh and Justin the choices for Christian are not married or single married or celibate.
When you are feeling alone and unwanted, allow yourself just a little time for that sad feeling. Then remember, you are not alone and unwanted — God is with you and has chosen you. You do not know what is in store. I am middle-aged and feel that my opportunities have passed. But I still pray and hope. I DO know that in eternity I will consider being single to be insignificant. Press on.
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